Alabama baseball had its starting point last week against Ole Miss. Its second SEC series of the season should shed more light on just how competitive the Crimson Tide can be in conference play.
There was no mistaking the series against Ole Miss left room for improvement. Alabama lost a 1-0 game on Friday night and the pitching staff struggled in a 12-2 loss on Sunday. Even the 8-6 win on Saturday against the top-10 Rebels included two errors from Alabama.
“I think we’ll all have a much better barometer of what we are after this weekend,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “Now, regardless of what happens come Sunday afternoon, we still have 80 percent of our SEC schedule left. … I think it’s very fair to say that regardless, win or lose, how this weekend goes, we’ll all have a better idea of what we’re looking at in three days.”
Arkansas is ranked between No. 7 and No. 17 in the major college baseball polls and finished the 2018 season one out short of winning the national championship against Oregon State. It’s another firm test that will give Alabama’s young roster a chance to see what the SEC schedule will look like.
Alabama vs. No. 7 Arkansas
Schedule: Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Where: Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Records: Alabama 18-4 (1-2 SEC), Arkansas 18-3 (3-0 SEC)
Radio: 102.9 FM
The series against Ole Miss was the first SEC start for two of the three members of the weekend rotation and six of the players in Friday night’s lineup.
“We didn’t play our best baseball but we were also really close in two of those games,” said second baseman Morgan McCullough, a junior college transfer. “So that kind of shows us that when we do manage to play our best baseball, we’re going to put ourselves in a good spot.”
Arkansas will be a formidable opponent. The Razorbacks have three position players who were pegged as preseason All-SEC. Their pitchers are holding opponents to a .196 batting average and Friday night starter Isaiah Campbell has 40 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.
Alabama hasn’t won a series against a West opponent since sweeping Auburn late in 2017 and hasn’t beaten Arkansas in a three-game series just once in the last seven seasons. After last week’s start, this weekend is another chance to step forward.
“I think everybody is excited to get back home and show that we can play the clean baseball we played in the first 18 games of the year, start carrying that into the conference play,” reliever Deacon Medders said.
Three promotions are also scheduled for the weekend. Friday night is “Bama Salute” night, which will honor active and former military members along with first responders. Fans can get a limited number of patriotic Alabama hats and buttons. Saturday is “Bark at the Park,” with fans able to purchase a special ticket and bring their dog to specific areas of the stadium. The series finale on Sunday is “Kids’ Day,” with the first 500 fans receiving a free Alabama baseball shirt.
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.